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Recent reviews...

Thanks to Dave Franklin for this review of my set at the Swindon Shuffle.
By Sunday I must have been getting the hang of this Shuffle thing, as I managed to get to the Beehive to catch Rob Beckinsale, Swindon’s answer to Louden Wainwright, kick off the last day. Armed with a piano, guitar, voice, and a strange sense of humour, Rob is a legend and today he sported the dapper threads of a silent movie-star and, occasionally, the lyrics of a death metal band. There was even room for a touch of existentialism…well it was the Beehive, it would be rude not to. I bet it didn’t even raise an eyebrow.

more of Dave's writing can be found at Green Man Music Reviews.
photo courtesy of Lisa and Darren of Puttyfoot.

The following review of "Unreliable Witness" appears on the Borderland site.
This is the latest album by Rob Beckinsale, a singer/songwriter in the Loudon Wainwright mould - perhaps even a little bit of Dylan acerbicness in there as well. Unreliable Witness contains his latest musings on living in Blair's Britain, amongst a society where the superficial is increasingly all that matters. Rob may not be an angry singer like Billy Bragg but his songs sting none the less and some of that North-South divide shows.
A dozen songs featuring mostly just his voice and acoustic guitar or piano may give this album a 'folky' feel but the observations are purely contemporary - no fingers in the ear here! The tracks that impressed me most are Dance You Buggers Dance, Come Close, Unreliable Witness and The Big Deal.
The songs also contain humour, and you could veer more towards Wainwright rather than Dylan as the major influence. But Rob Beckinsale is resolutely a British songwriter, the world he chronicles is little Britain [and I don't mean the tv comedy show], the canvas is small but viewed with a detailed eye.

The following review of "Small Boy/Spirit Of Enchantment" appears on the Borderland site.
This is the second album by Rob Beckinsale I've received and while the first was a pleasant surprise this new collection is even better. Small Boy... is actually a double album, the first of songs, the second of instrumentals. Small Boy... begins with the title track, a small autobiographical observation done up in Kinks-style rock trimmings and even some of Ray Davies' style lyrics. I Am But A Fool is a nice little folky swinger that could have been something Loudon Wainwright tossed off for one of his albums.
Stylistically, the album is all over the place, every track different - take The Wedding of the May Queen, it sounds like a gentle Hoagy Carmichael bluesy ballad, but then the cajun style accordian kicks in, followed by some plangent guitar solos... I don't think there is a duff track anywhere on this vocal album, and that makes it all the more incredible considering Rob Beckinsale also plays all the instruments. And there are some very tasty-sounding solos popping up across these tracks.
The instrumental album is called In The Spirit Of Enchantment, and reminds me a little of the sort of 'work in progress' extra albums Bill Nelson used to include with his official releases. In this case, that musical eclectism comes to the fore again, as the opening track, Cubist, is a jaunty latin number. The overall feel on this album is piano jazz-lite with latin overtones. The moods vary but the musicianship is high all the way through and this album makes a good companion piece with Small Boy...
In some ways it is a shame that albums of this quality are home recorded, home produced and home distributed, and are denied the advantages of major label promotion, but then again Rob Beckinsale doesn't have to conform to a major label's criteria which would smooth out and homogenize that large spark of talent. If you enjoy individuality in your music then go for this in a big way, you won't be disappointed.

The following review of "The Year I Forgot Who I Was" also appears on the Borderland site.
For many musicians having a home recording studio is a very liberating experience - the freedom to explore and create your own music away from the constraints of commercial pressure and expectations must be a godsend. Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rob Beckinsale is such a musician, and The Year I Forgot... is his first self-released cd album.
And what an impressive album it is - Rob Beckinsale writes his songs from the heart and they are direct and honest. It also helps that he is a damn fine musician and this album is in turn haunting in its directness and swings like a bitch. Tracks such as They Never Wanted To Be... would make any Steely Dan fan sit up and do a double take - it's a classy bit of ice-cool jazz funk that Fagan and Becker would be proud of.
Rob Beckinsale is an impressive musician, and a track such as Love Songs For Grown Ups starts out with a latin feel and then shifts into rock mode with one of the best economic and precise guitar solos I've heard in a long time. River Of Blood is a valid and strong condemnation of the way tragedy and death has become a news commodity in our society - I suspect that watching reports about Kosovo or the latest Northern Ireland attrocity was the spur for this song.
So what we have here is a fascinating album by a mostly unknown songwriter who ploughs his own furrow releasing cassette albums and now this cd. And do you know what the most frustrating thing is? That all the major labels are so in love with their bloody boy and girl bands, or have their heads jammed up some DJ's boom box that when faced with real talent they bottle out of it. Okay, The Year I Forgot... won't change lives or influence other musicians [well, it would be nice to think that it did, but let's be realistic] but it is so much better than what you can buy in HMV, and it deserves a chance to find an audience!

The following review of "The Year I Forgot Who I Was" appeared in issue 12 of the AutoReverse on-line magazine.
Fully-realized, guitar-centric homepop. Beckinsale is a talented one-man army. The CD opens with "Sometime Soon", an uptempo rahhk numbah with epic keyboard swells and multiple guitar tracks. And a guitar solo! Nobody plays guitar solos anymore! "You changed" is Prefab Sprout quantized. "Someone Could Kill" employs a massive, global tone - probably due to the dripping-water and percussion sounds. Oh. And the accordion. The same kind of Paul Simon "Graceland" vibe pervades "They Go Shopping". Hell yeah. You don't hear many people doing this kind of stuff. "And the Rain It Fell" is a grey-day acoustic near-ballad. "They Never Wanted To Be" recalls Thomas Dolby's excursions into funk. "Love Songs For Grownups" has me wondering, Aztec Camera? Hell, I don't know. "River of Blood" is an acoustic ballad about, uh, the evils of war. "Microcosm" leaves on a relatively "up" note - jazzy piano building into a "full band" crescendo. Definitely a CD worth having.

From the same magazine a review of "Love'll Find Me" from Confectioners Weakness
From the album The Confectioner's Weakness. More sequenced homepop with Dave Gregory on at least one guitar. Grown up pop that makes me think of Aztec Camera because I'm a fucking moron. This song is great because it makes me think. And it doesn't sound exactly like anybody else. And after five listens I can usually sing along all the way through.

I'll put the old reviews on to the site at some later date....when I've got five minutes to have a sort out!